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Tag / underwater

After attending MIDE (Malaysian International Dive Expo) a few weeks prior and ended up spending quite a chunk of change on gears, Haze and I decided that a dive trip must follow. After all, the last trip was some 4 months ago at Lang Tengah.

After a bit of calling about different dive operators both in Tioman and Tenggol, we settled on diving with the operator at Tenggol Resort, the establishment situated on the far right of the beach if you are facing the island.

our resort is located at the far right of the beach
our resort is located at the far right of the beach

Due to schedule constraint, we only wanted a 2 day 1 night trip, and the package we got quoted was RM 580 per pax, which includes 4 guided boat dives. However, we also had to pay a RM 250 surcharge due to the fact that they had to use a 24-seat ferry to fetch just two of us from Dungun (other divers were all on the 3D2N option).

Fair enough I guess, hat made it a tad more expensive than normal for 4-dives, but we were pretty adamant on diving last weekend, so we went ahead with the arrangement anyway.

jelly fish, and note the inhabitants within it
jelly fish, and note the inhabitants within it

Ferry was to depart at 8:30 am in the morning, we started our drive from PJ at around 3 in the morning and it took us about 4.5 hours including a sahur stop at highway R&R to cover some 400 km.

obligatory shot of a family of nemo
obligatory shot of a family of nemo

Dungun is actually the closest place to get to for any decent diving, unless you actually consider Lumut/Sembilan islands a valid diving option, which I don’t and hence hasn’t bothered to pen down  the trip there earlier this year.

I just wish they didn’t delay the opening East Coast Highway to 2015 from the original 2011, that would cut half an hour off, hello JKR!

can you spot the tiny shrimp?
can you spot the tiny shrimp?

The room we had at Tenggol Resort had 2 single bed on each side of the smallish room, with no table or closet, and an attached bathroom with surprisingly good heated water (works from 7 pm till 8:30 am, as with electricity). Air conditioning didn’t really work well for us but temperature at night on the island is usually pretty comfortable anyway.

We didn’t have any problems with insects or bed bugs but a mat salleh in another room had his back bitten pretty bad. This is definitely not a 3-star or even 1-star type of place, but it will get you through the night if you’re not too fussy.

a pair of nudibranch, Hypselodoris bullocki, yes, coitus
a pair of nudibranch, Hypselodoris bullocki, yes, coitus

As with any trip at Tenggol (and with most islands), all meals are provided. We were lucky as there was an actual professional chef working (part time) at the resort for that particular week, so we ended up having pretty awesome meal. Your mileage may vary.

a white nudi wandering around - Chromodoris coi
a white nudi wandering around – Chromodoris coi

We did 3 boat dives on the day of arrival, and another morning dive on the next day. Our dive master Salleh was a very “chilling” type of guy, but perhaps one that is more suited for seasoned divers than beginners. Briefings were actually very brief, and the DM also didn’t dictate what we were doing underwater for the most part, we were also allowed to stay as long as we wanted instead of some who can’t wait to get out of water once it’s over 45 minutes.

My experience with the DM is a positive one.

underwater seascape
underwater seascape

Short dive logs, check this image for dive sites:

  1. Moon Wrecker – 11:26 am 21/6/2012. 43 minutes drift dive with plenty to see and pretty decent 15 meter visibility.  Saw some huge jelly fish, and one being attacked/eaten by a Titan Trigger fish, a 5 foot long black tip shark swam by 15-20 meter away too, good stuff. Slightly challenging dive for Haze in the beginning but she cope well. DM led us with another 2 guys – Thomas & Trud (spelling?).
  2. Rajawali Reef – 2:54 pm 21/6/2012. Plenty of nudibranch in this dive, there were no current, nice and relaxing. Spotted stingrays too, 54 minute dive time.
  3. Tanjung Gemuk – 5:53 pm 21/6/2012. We spent another 55 minutes on the last dive of the day, nice calm evening water with more nudibranch, stingray, eel, and pipe fish. It was just Haze, myself, and the dive master in this dive.
  4. Tokong Timur – 8:41 am 22/6/2012. One of the better dive sites at Tenggol that is also a bit more challenging, Tokong Timur is a very small island with a light house atop. There was a bit of a mild current and slightly choppy surface water, saw one really big batfish, and as with anywhere Tenggol, more nudibranch, sea fan, and nemo. Not a bad way to end the trip.
Our maximum depths in all those dives were capped at around 20+ meters, and at one point we touched 27 meter I believe.

Haze's imitation of a sky dive, or something
Haze’s imitation of a sky dive, or something

With this short Tenggol trip I’ve logged 28 dives in 4 diving trips this year. Diving can be an expensive hobby, I justify it with not having a car loan.

hello stingray, look who's looming behind
hello stingray, look who’s looming behind

My current set up for underwater photography is the Olympus E-PL3 with the in-house EP-PT05L housing. I have an ikelite plate for it and a single Sea & Sea YS-01 underwater strobe to light up the subject. All photos taken with Inon UWL 100 & Dome port.

My gears are almost complete, I just need to upgrade it to dual YS-01 (or trade this in for dual Inon z-240 and be RM 2-3k poorer), and add a stacked Inon UCL-165 lenses for macro to complete my gears. Perhaps some floats will help too, the equipment is getting heavy.

normal camwhore is so mainstream, this is underwater camwhore!
normal camwhore is so mainstream, this is underwater camwhore!

I think there’s another 1-2 trips to be done in this year, bring it on!

This is the follow up to the previous Lang Tengah dive trip post.

After two dives on the first day, we spent Saturday going underwater three times. The first dive in the morning was a deepish dive that bottomed out at close to 30 meters.

The visibility going down was excellent, but once we reached the bottom we literally couldn’t see anything past 3 meters, sometimes you’re lucky, other times you aren’t, and this is an example of the latter.

blue spotted stingray
blue spotted stingray

However, even with the lackluster visibility, we did spot quite a few creatures at this dive site. A beautiful blue spotted stingray were found laying at the bottom, and there were juvenile bamboo sharks hiding in the reefs too. We also spotted a huge cuttle fish who wasn’t too thrill to see us, I did manage to snap a couple pictures of the undersea alien before it jetted off from us.

cuttle fish, not looking terribly happy
cuttle fish, not looking terribly happy

this is 1/3 of a bamboo shark hiding within the coral reef
this is 1/3 of a bamboo shark hiding within the coral reef

We spent some 20 minutes at the bottom and another 15 minutes or so slowly ascending to the surface. The temperature at the bottom was a chilly 26 C, making it the coldest I’ve been (other than Aquaria KLCC)

underwater thugs wannabe
underwater thugs wannabe

After brunch, we had another dive, and on this second site, we found what we were looking for – the magnificent leopard shark.

Leopard Shark at Lang Tengah
Leopard Shark at Lang Tengah

I’ve seen leopard shark while diving at Aquaria KLCC, but seeing a beautiful specimen in the wild is something else. Ed and I navigated slowly to the side of the resting leopard shark to take a closer position for photography, and just as we were settling down, Terence landed at the back of the shark, thus startled the creature, it took off..

Luckily I was able to snap a couple photos before it got away. Sharks are often more afraid of us than we are of them, and if we are to be able to see these beautiful creatures in the wild, do SAY NO TO SHARKS FIN.

leopard shark taking off
leopard shark taking off

underwater photographer at work
underwater photographer at work

The fifth dive of the trip turned out to be our final dive. Terence and I had initially planned to conduct a night dive at the house reef, but thunderstorm that started at around 6:30pm or so pretty much doomed whatever plan we had.

We took it easy on this dive, averaging only at around 14+ meters, with the maximum depth of less than 23 meters. The seascape was beautiful, and again there were plenty of clownfish to be toyed with.

the ever so photogenic clown fish in anemone
the ever so photogenic clown fish in anemone

a fish that looks like coral, or coral that looks like a fish?
a fish that looks like coral, or coral that looks like a fish?

All the photos taken in this post were with the aid of the INON UWL & DOME unit. The ultra wide angle conversion allows me to get to the subject much closer, hence reducing the wastage of light from the external flash unit (I have a single unit of Sea & Sea YS-01).

For those who are unfamiliar with underwater photography, the deeper we go, the more red we lose (hence everything looks blue), and thus underwater flash comes very handy. However, flash units are expensive, and has limited range, a few feet further and all you see is blue again.

All this means that the closer you can get to the subject, the easier you can lit them up. To make matters trickier, water has an amplification factor of about 30%, hence the importance of wide angle lenses.

this would make a good aquarium backdrop
this would make a good aquarium backdrop

sea fan and ikan bilis
beautiful sea fan with them ikan bilis

I hope you enjoy the photos, hopefully there are more to come. What I really want now is another flash unit and some external arms get better pictures. We shall see. Expensive hobby, le sigh.

Can’t wait for the next compressed air escapade.

more photos at my flickr set, and for more posts on my diving trips, click here.

Just got back from Lang Tengah, plenty of underwater photos to process, some of them turned out quite well thanks to a loaner INON ultra wide angle dome unit.

Here a teaser picture:

a family of nemo at Lang Tengah
a family of nemo at Lang Tengah (click pic for bigger version)

Clown fish (or better known as Nemo these days) is still one of my favorite subjects underwater, and Lang Tengah is home to many of them.

Proper travelog and more photos to be posted once I got them properly processed.

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Nudibranch is a type of shell-less mollusk (octopus is a mollusk too!) that dots the ocean, typically hanging at the rock wall, coral, or bottom of the sea. Also known as sea slugs, these creatures are pretty tiny, typically not larger than your pinky.

Nudis come in a huge variety of shapes and colors, but they usually have a recognizable head with a pair of antennas, and an naked gill like organ at the rear that looks almost like a flower. The colors act as a deterrence and/or camouflage, some nudis can somehow “move” venoms from their prey to the outer part of their body to make themselves toxic to their potential predators. Fascinating stuff.

Tenggol island was partly made famous by the abundance of nudibranchs, and in my last trip (31st April to 2nd May) and over 8 dives, I’ve spotted at least 11 different types of nudis at dive sites around the main and surrounding islands.

The photos below are taken with my Canon S90, either with the miserable built in flash that’s half blocked by the underwater housing, or with natural light. Color temperatures are corrected, as with a bit of contrast adjustments.

I am dreaming a set of underwater strobes, but those toys are pricey….

Phyllidia varicosa (scrambled egg nudibrach)
Phyllidia varicosa

Also referred to as the scrambled egg nudi, this one’s pretty big in size, almost 3-4 inches in length. I don’t know who came up with the name, but if you serve my scrambled egg in this color, I’m probably gonna reject it.

Flabellina exoptata
Flabellina exoptata

From the puplish base, white tips and the blue rings, this looks like a flabellina exoptata but I could be wrong.

a black nembrotha something?
black nembrotha something?

It took me better part of an hour to find out the name for this nudi, no luck. Anyone know?

Atagema intecta
Atagema intecta

Again, atagema intecta might not be the correct species name for this black nudi with tiny brown spots all over. With 3000 or so species of nudibranchs it’s quite a drag to find the correct name sometimes.

Chromodoris coi
Chromodoris coi

The white and grey nudi with black outline’s just lovely.

Phyllidia coelestis
Phyllidia coelestis

The first time I spotted this lovely blue and black nudi with yellow spikes and tentacles.

Chromodoris magnifica
Chromodoris magnifica

This one’s also called the stripped pajama nudi, not hard to see why. But does anyone seriously still have pajamas of this yellow, white, and black color scheme?

1. Phyllidia pustulosa 2. Nembrotha kubaryana 3. Pteraeolidia ianthina 4. Hypselodoris bullocki
1. Phyllidia pustulosa 2. Nembrotha kubaryana
3. Pteraeolidia ianthina 4. Hypselodoris bullocki

These few are the more common ones around Tenggol, with Pteraeolidia especially plentiful. In the last dive I could spot at least a dozen of them within 10 meters in diameter.

Almost 3 weeks after my diving trip to Mabul and Sipadan, I’ve finally sorta figured out how to do simple editing with iMovie. Below are two videos compiled from multiple shootings both under and above water with my canon S90 compact camera.

The above video are edited from multiple dives at Kapalai and Sipadan where we encountered many turtles, grouper, huge ball of jackfish, sharks, and even a little pygmy seahorse. What you can hear from the video was exactly all one can hear while diving. Bubbles and the sound of you sucking that air via regulator, ahh.. tranquility.

This is making me miss diving again!

As mentioned in this post titled Mabul and Kapalai under 18 meters of water, we had an awesome party at Uncle Chang’s dive lodge in Mabul on the first night we stayed there. Now there’s the video evidence.

Irene, Jen, Lynn, Chan, and Gun were all awesome and made the trip that much better too. I can’t wait to go back there again!